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President V. Lane Rawlins announces his future retirement plans
Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer
UNT President V. Lane Rawlins announced yesterday he will retire by the end of 2013 and step into a smaller role with the university.
In a letter to the UNT students and community, Rawlins said the reason for his departure isn’t health related, but because of the university’s “good” position. In the letter, he said there is a “possibility of moving ahead to even greater status and performance in the very near future.”
“The institution is on a roll, I think,” he said. “I always think you should leave when things are on an upswing. It’s been a great time for me, but it seems like the right time to do this.”
Rawlins, the university’s 15th president, had previously signed a two-year contract extension in August. Six months later, during the Board of Regents meeting on Feb. 14-15, the board voted 8-0 in favor to give Chancellor Lee Jackson permission to “amend Dr. Rawlins’s employment agreement.”
Rawlins said he requested that the Board amend his contract so that he would be able to retire by the end of 2013.
Rawlins was hired in November 2010 after replacing Phil Diebel on an interim basis earlier that year for Gretchen Bataille. While Rawlins initially intended on staying for a year or so, he and his wife, Mary Jo, fell in love with the campus and decided to stay longer, Jackson said.
“He was just what the doctor ordered in 2010. We were delighted to ask him to basically stay as long as he wanted to,” Jackson said. “We are lucky in many ways that that short interim assignment turned into three years of steady progress and success. I thought he could have stayed many more years.”
Rawlins said that after making sure he had a smooth transition, he set many goals for himself, including getting UNT athletics moved into another conference and making the budgeting process more transparent.
“I wanted to tell our story a little louder and a little more emphatically than we have in past,” he said. “You never get all the way there. I could be president for 100 years and never reach my goals. You keep setting higher and higher goals.”
In February 2012, Rawlins also introduced the “Four Bold Goals, One Great University: UNT in a Whole New Light.” The plan included providing the best undergraduate educational experience in the state, achieving a tier-one research status, becoming a national leader in student support and by expanding on beneficial partnerships.
The campaign also came with the slogan “A green light to greatness.”
Board of Regents chair Jack Wall said Rawlins exceeded everything that the board ever expected of him. When asked how the board will replace Rawlins, Wall said they didn’t want to.
“Well, we’d like to clone Dr. Rawlins,” he said. “You want somebody who can get along well with students, get along well with faculty, with donors and alumni. Dr. Rawlins has done all that. He’s brought all them together. We’d like to have him for another five years, another 10 years.”
Wall also said graduation rates are up and beginning SAT scores have also risen in Rawlins’s tenure.
Rawlins will accept an unpaid position as President Emeritus after he steps down, and will help his successor on a part-time basis.
“I’m way behind on some writing projects that I was doing before I came out of retirement. I’ve got some more grandchildren that I need to teach how to fly fish,” he said. “It won’t be 70 hours a week like I’m doing now, but I’ll still be connected to UNT.”
Chancellor Jackson said in an email that a 15-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee will be formed in the next two weeks composed of alumni, students, faculty and staff.
Three faculty members who have been chosen are professor of counseling and higher education V. Barbara Bush, Regents professor of chemistry Angela Wilson and Faculty Senate Chair Mark Vosvick.
Rawlins said he will serve as president until a replacement is found.